A couple of verses of Scripture that are crucial to understanding this:
* Acts 20:28 - 30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
* Matt. 7: 15 - 20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
* Matt. 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
These Verses Describe The Nature And Intentions of Wolves Among The Flock
Paul said: After his departing, (his being Shepherd) that "grievous" (Burdensome) Wolves would enter, not "sparing" the flock. Also, from within their own ranks men would arise, (from the flock) clothed as a sheep, they would speak "perverse things"; meaning they would distort the truth and deliberately cause misunderstanding and cause division. The fact is, wolves always have the same purpose... and that purpose is To draw away followers to themselves.
Jesus warned to beware those who came clothed as sheep (one of you!) but on the inside, they had a selfish, purpose... to draw people unto themselves for selfish gain and pride. People have always interpreted this to mean they will scatter and destroy the flock (and that may in fact occur) but in reality, what they are doing is drawing people unto themselves. They will suddenly "feel led" to start a new study, a new group or a new church... which sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? But let's examine this a little closer.
If a man had a desire to have a family, that is a good thing. But suppose he did not want to take the time to find a woman whom is attracted to, take the time to woo and court her, marry her and then produce a family. Suppose he spied out another man's family and he admired what he had, so he developed a plan to woo that man's wife away from him, and he built a fancy house, and did all sorts of things to steal the affection of this woman and he eventually succeeds in causing a rift, and splits this family and takes it as his own. We would all call this man a thief and adulterer and probably a whole lot worse! Yet, this very thing is happening all over the land in our churches! Men move into a town and rather than go out and win the lost and "build a family" (a church) they spend thousands, maybe even millions of dollars (as was the case in one church in my town) before they even opened the doors... to have a fancy building, send fancy cards to everyone's homes and they successfully divide "families" (churches) and they have a ready made family. They sure appear successful... but they are thieves and wolves! They have not started with a couple of sheep and nurtured them in an healthy environment to reproduce sheep, but they have crept in with perverse things, with flash and splendor to draw away from other churches to draw them unto themselves. According to the scripture I referenced above... these are wolves in sheep's clothing! And it does not have to happen on a grand scale. People do it all the time by speaking half truths and deception to those in the body of Christ, and appearing to be very spiritual, they will say, "I felt led to begin a new study" and they draw sheep away from the Body and unto themselves. Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Any time someone draws away from the Body, you are looking at a wolf in sheep's clothing. If it is above board and for the right purpose it will always add to the body, never take away!
Remember, a wolf does not usually come out and say, "I'm a wolf!" Yet, they will tell you who they are if you watch them over the long haul. A wolf will use people until they have had enough and then kick them to the curb, hurt them and leave them wounded. The true shepherd comes along and tends to the wounded sheep. Sadly, those that are prone to following wolves will usually go back and follow them over and over and over, because they come with enticing words and flattery that builds the sheep up and makes them feel good... until they are ready to kick them to the curb again. Yet, they will follow them again and again, allowing the wolf to mistreat them... because they like the sweet lies they speak to them for a season... and even a season of bliss seems worth it to those that are prone to follow the false shepherd.